Chickpeas with chillies


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • For

    four to six

Appears in

The Café Paradiso Cookbook

The Café Paradiso Cookbook

By Denis Cotter

Published 1999

  • About

The chilli-heat rating of this dish depends on the chillies you use and your own tolerance for the stuff. The only foolproof way to know how hot a chilli is, is to taste it. Nick a tiny bit off and eat it. Sometimes, large green chillies have almost no firepower in their flesh but loads in the seeds. Again, whether or not you use the seeds is up to you and how hot you want the dish to be. I like it to be fiery hot, rich and oily, and I then use small amounts of it to accompany milder dishes, like the pumpkin and spring cabbage dolma. To make this a more substantial dish, it will happily take some green vegetables on board - leeks, green beans, okra and spinach all work very well. Once, I made it into a kind of inverted pilaff by adding a few spoonfuls of cooked couscous at the end, not enough to change it to a grain dish but just enough to absorb any spare liquids.


  • 200 g chickpeas
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 100 mls olive oil
  • 2-4 fresh chillies
  • 2 tomatoes, deseeded
  • 2 tsps cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 100 mls tomato passata
  • fresh coriander


SOAK THE CHICKPEAS OVERNIGHT and boil them until tender. This can take from one to three hours; depending on their age, but remember that chickpeas never get mushy-soft like lentils or other beans.

Start cooking the onion slowly in a couple of tablespoonfuls of the olive oil. Halve the chillies lengthways, then slice them into thin half-rounds. Chop the tomatoes into small dice, then add them to the pan with the chillies and the cumin seeds. Fry gently for a minute before adding the cooked chickpeas, the olive oil, salt and passata, and enough water to barely cover everything. Bring it to a boil, then cook at a lively simmer until the water is gone and the chickpeas have taken on a rich, oily sheen. Stir in lots of fresh coriander just before serving.